Kickass Women

History is filled with women doing all kinds of kickass stuff.

Smart Girls

Watch these girls... they're going places!

Inspiration

Need a dose of inspiration? Here you go.

SRPS Entertainment

Some of my entertainment recommendations with awesome female characters and stars.

She's Crafty!

Some of the awesome items made by kickass women!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Movie Night - REBEL: Loreta Velazquez, Secret Soldier of the American Civil War



I came across REBEL: Loreta Velazquez, Secret Soldier of the American Civil War while perusing the DVD shelves at my local library a couple of weeks ago. Having just finished watching Mercy Street, I was looking for other shows or books about the many different roles women played during the Civil War. The blurb from the back of the case certainly piqued my interest:
In 1861, at the outbreak of the American Civil War, a teenager from New Orleans headed to the front lines. Under the alias Harry T. Buford, he fought at First Bull Run, was wounded at Shiloh, and served as a Confederate spy. But Buford harbored a secret -- he was really Loreta Velazquez, a Cuban immigrant from New Orleans. By 1863, Velazquez was spying for the Union. She scandalized American when she revealed her story in her 1876 memoir, The Woman in Battle. Attacked not only for her criticism of war, but her sexuality and social rule-breaking, Velazquez was dismissed as a hoax for 150 years. But evidence confirms she existed, one of over 1,000 women soldiers who served in the Civil War.
As did this quote from the documentary's website:
With the triple digit explosion of Latino immigrants throughout the South, along with a dizzying increase in hate crimes against Latinos, and the increase in numbers of Latino and women service personnel in the nation’s military, I believe this story about a southern woman Civil War soldier who struggled with difficult decisions about nationhood and patriotism in a country racked with the scourge and legacy of slavery will resonate with contemporary audiences. As we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War in the 21st century, it behooves us to broaden our understandings of the meaning of this pivotal struggle forged in blood, that sought to establish citizenship for all Americans.
So, yeah. A woman passing as a man so she could fight in the war? A discussion about Cubans living in New Orleans in the 19th century? Scandal, sex, and social impropriety? Yes, please! Sounds like my kind of story.

I have watched the documentary and the "Behind the Scenes" clip (the documentary about the documentary?) a couple of times since bringing it home, and I find that it is so chock full of information that I truly needed to watch it several times to really get a handle on her story.

Filmmaker MarĂ­a Agui Carter does an excellent job addressing the ways race, gender, and ethnicity influenced Loreta's life, and the how she clearly went out of her way to defy many of the social expectations related to these same concepts.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Marie Curie - cyclist?

I am in the middle of a kind of Marie Curie kick it seems. After reading Julie Des Jardins' thought-provoking The Madame Curie Complex [affiliate link], I felt compelled to do my own research into the life and work of a woman who seems to have become more legend than anything else.

I am currently about halfway through the biography by Eve Curie, Madame Curie [affiliate link], and while I have had to put the book down for a while to process the heartbreak of Pierre's death, I keep going back to this photograph of the two of them with their prized bicycles.





The story we most often hear about Marie Curie is the one about her absolute dedication to her research and the endless hours she spent in her laboratory. These are certainly honorable, if super-human, traits worth celebrating, but I have to wonder why we so rarely hear about her more mundane and human moments? I am thoroughly fascinated by her research and the Eureka! moments as well as the years-long hard labor to prove her ideas. But I am equally fascinated to know how she and Pierre organized their home life, and what they did in their rare moments of relaxation. Maybe it's just a matter of human nature, but all while reading about the life and work of this remarkable woman, I am enjoying little pings of "hey, me too!' when I find threads of similarity between her life and mine.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

She's Crafty - Sci Chic

I absolutely love the trend of blending science and engineering and girly items. Geeky jewelry, clothing, and hair accessories are just so flippin' awesome. It takes the tired old trope of science being a masculine pursuit and drops it in a box, sets it on fire, and sends it into outer space. All with a girly flair, of course.


So when I came across the amazing 3D printed jewelry from SciChic, I made an audible squealing noise from a place of pure glee. Fortunately, when I asked, Erin Winick, one of the two amazing young women who dreamed up this fantastic business, she agreed! We had a fabulous conversation, and now I admire her work even more.

Their APEX collection is launching on Pi Day (March 14), and judging by the items they've previewed, it will be a beautiful assortment of science and engineering themed pendants and rings. I can't wait to see them all.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Gamer Girl - Damsel

Not too long ago, I saw a tweet from the excellent Giselle Rosman, whom I was lucky enough to meet while visiting Australia a couple of years ago, raving about a new game looking for votes for on Steam Greenlight. That in itself is not all that unusual, since it's pretty much her mission to promote awesome Aussie game developers. And, to be honest, I almost always check out the games she recommends because there have been so many really great games coming out of Australia lately (see Ninja Pizza Girl) so it's a pretty good gamble. And, again, she was right. Damsel look like an awesome game.
In this arcade platformer, play as agent Damsel as she races across the world keeping humanity safe from the forces of evil. Complete dozens of missions, rescue hostages, gather intel, and eliminate the vampire hordes with an ever expanding arsenal of upgradable weapons and equipment.
OK, so it's got a kickass female protagonist fighting vampire hordes with awesome weapons and saving the world from evil? Yes, please!



Over the last couple of weeks, I managed to strike up a great conversation with Megan Summers, the producer of Damsel. She shared with me a bit about herself as a female game developer and her work.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

SRPS Book Shelf: Sadie McGrady, Leading Lady



A while back a friend turned me on to Inkshares as a way to help indie authors get their books published. Since then, I've spent way too much time looking at books and buying books and reading book. OK. I haven't actually read all of the books I've ordered. Some of them haven't even come in yet, since I've only pre-ordered them.

Anyway, this isn't about my overwhelmingly huge to-read pile, both physical and virtual. This is about one of the many fantastic children's books I found there: Sadie McGrady, Leading Lady



I love that this book uses actual photographs, which brings a sense of realness and movement to the story of Sadie McGrady and her quest to become president. And of course, it's quite timely, what with the US elections going on right now. I wanted to know more about the inspiration for this book, so I reached out to its author, Mary Parry, who was gracious enough to answer some of my questions.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Ettie Rout - A problematic hero

I came across this picture of Ettie Annie Rout the other day and decided to do a little research. What I have learned since has inspired me. And saddened me. She was a brave woman who traveled the world during wartime, took an active role addressing serious social issues, and promoted family planning and distributed advice and devices to prevent STDs and unwanted pregnancies at the risk of her social standing, and often even her personal safety. And much of writings were most certainly classist, if not completely racist.

As often happens when discussing humans, and especially those from other eras, the person who does amazing works is still likely to be a flawed character. The dilemma for any historian, even a part-time history blogger like myself, is how to simultaneously celebrate the parts we like and honestly address the parts we do not. How does one write about the remarkable life of a woman who risked so much to promote safe sex and family planning, while also acknowledging the terrible influence eugenics had on her beliefs? When discussing it on twitter, it was referred to as the "Margaret Sanger problem." Bascially, how do you celebrate a woman who did amazing work, but for ugly reasons?

The best answer I've come up with is to do my best to explore both the positive and negative aspects of a person's life and work. When it comes to white women in the late-19th and early-20th century, too often there is at least a tinge of colonialism, racism, and classism to be dealt with. In some cases, it is a full-on stain, and many times I leave those women for a different discussion. But sometimes, even those whose motivations were the very things we rail against today, their story is still one I find inspirational.

Such is the case with Ettie Rout. From what I can find online, her work prior to World War I was already quite impressive, and while some of the ideas behind her work as a sexual educator during and after the war are, frankly, revolting, her work itself was revolutionary.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Kickstart This! The Hues V2

OK, seriously y'all... you need to check out The Hues. Alex Heberling's comic is chockablock full of amazing characters and excitement. When she describes it as "a little bit Sailor Moon, and a little bit Independence Day" she isn't exaggerating in the least. It really is.


I backed her first Kickstarter even though I barely had $15 to my name, simply because it was too awesome to pass up. When I got the book I read it cover to cover the first evening, and then read it again. I even read it again this afternoon before posting this. I mean, magical girls fighting aliens! It doesn't get better than that.
The Hues is about a group of teenage girls who discover their powers just a little too late-- the Big Bad is already here and they have only a rudimentary grasp of their abilities and what they're supposed to be doing. It all hinges on hints and clues regarding a mysterious person named Jouchi, who may have the answers they seek about how to reclaim their home from the aliens.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Peggy Whitson - astronaut

"Raised on an Iowa farm, but grew up to be a commander of a spaceship." If you're a sci-fi nerd like me, this story sounds very familiar. But in this case, I don't mean Captain James T. Kirk.

I'm talking about Peggy Whitson, biochemistry researcher, NASA astronaut, and former NASA Chief Astronaut. She was the first woman to command the International Space Station when she arrived as part of Expedition 16, on October 10, 2007. After her two trips to space, she's NASA's most experienced female astronaut, with more than 376 days in space. And she's going back again in November 2016 as part of Expedition 50/51. At 56, she will be the oldest woman to travel in space.

Peggy was born on February 9, 1960, in Mount Ayr, Iowa, and grew up on a farm nearby. She learned all about determination and hard work watching her parents as they got up before dawn every day to keep the farm running. When she was nine her class watched the live footage of Neil Armstrong taking his first steps on the moon. She was moonstruck. Or, at the very least, space-struck. In 1969, it seemed unlikely that a little girl could become an astronaut, but by the time she graduated from high school things had changed. The same year she received her diploma and looked out at her options was the same year NASA began accepting women. "[A]t that point I thought: this is going to be something I'm going to try and do."